Sun 1 March
Matt. 5:31 – “It was said, ‘ WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’;
Matt. 5:32 – but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Jesus continues to address the issue of opting out of things (in this case marriage) just because things get tough. Divorce has become way too prevalent in the Body of Christ today. This is the result of the mindset that we should avoid disappointment and suffering at all costs. Jesus ups the requirements for staying together, based on the fact that under the New Covenant we a new heart and the power, in Him, to overcome rather than quit. This applies to all things.
Most marriages face some tough times or dry moments at least some time in their journey. These are not reasons for divorce – instead, the principles of the Kingdom of God urge us to get on our knees, die to ourselves, and seek to work harder for the well being of our spouse, despite what he or she may be going through. To divorce, for any other reason than adultery, is grevious to the Lord.
Jesus presented marriage as a sacred covenant. This is what God always intended it to be. When two people become one flesh, it is a lifetime commitment despite what may develop in regard to the relationship. There is no guarantee that every marriage will be deeply fulfilling for every person. That is something to strive for but it is not guaranteed. The many and varied reasons for this are much complex to cover here – but if things cannot be changed, at least in the now, the grace of God is available for them to be endured. This should be our first response and what we commit ourselves for at the feet of the Lord.
Of course, this does NOT mean that any spouse should tolerate abuse of any form – physical or verbal. Our marriages should at the very least, be a safe place for us. I have done extensive marriage counsel over the years, and although I believe most problems can be solved if both partners are prepared to submit to the Lord, any person has the right to leave the marriage if they are subject to abuse. Abuse of any form is a violation of covenant and can certainly be grounds for divorce. This is made clear elsewhere Scripture.
The key to any successful marriage begins with self-denial. Your good at my expense (1 Cor 13) is a great place to start and constantly revisit. Another powerful key is not to try and meet one another’s hopes, dreams and desires in your own strength. Remember, to really make a marriage work, Jesus needs to be in the middle and we seek to minister to one another in and through Him, not ourselves.
If you marriage is good, work hard to make it better. If it has become a little stale or routine, make an effort to change or recover some things that have got lost. And if it is not what you hoped it would be, get before the Lord and seek His help before making further demands on your spouse. The best question to ask is “what can I change” rather than “what should you change.”
Finally, if things are not working, seek counsel. Often we are blinded in our own situations, where those outside of it can see how changes can be made.
Jesus intended marriage to be a most blessed institution – but remember – it is not the ultimate in life. Many people who have done incredible things in the Kingdom of God have been single. Whatever your situation, married or single, remember that fulfilment can only ever be found in Christ – if you have a relationship with Him you have all you need to “fare well”.
God bless you.